As a Value Added Reseller (VAR) or whatever term you choose to adopt for your IT business, it’s important that at every step of your relationships with your clients, you establish and promote value exchange.
What do we mean by this? VARs and VADs (Value Adding Distributors) have typically promoted themselves on the additional services and resources they offer their customers in an effort to stand out in the crowd. Whether it’s pre-sales consultancy or post-sales technical support, value is added to the original ‘box’ in a way that benefits the client.
It’s important for any business adding value to their customers to ensure that they continue to evolve and deliver services and resources that are up-to-date, relevant, in a way that is progressive. In order to do this, you have to create and supply value that is relevant to the demands of your clients. Therefore, you need to be comfortable transforming the traffic flow of value from one-way to two-way .
By creating a circle of value exchange, both parties benefit not just for the now, but for as long as the bond is established.
Here are a few ideas on how to go about that:
Statements about a client’s experience of your business can be a powerful element to your online and offline communications. They are a great way to re-enforce your messaging to prospective clients as well as affirming the abilities of your business as well as those of your colleagues. Clients who are
happy wowed by their experience with your business will be more than happy to submit a few lines of praise.
2. Organisational Charts
One of the most useful drawings your client can give you is a who’s who map of their company. Not only will it show who they report to and potentially give the nod on your purchase orders, but you’ll be able to identify and incorporate other key stakeholders and their needs into any proposals you submit in the future.
Happy clients should naturally evolve into advocates of your business and the service you deliver. Whilst in these cases, you’ll find you don’t need to ask for a referral, it’s healthy to talk to your clients about the profile of those businesses you are trying to work with. For example, if all you receive is referral work with the complete opposite of your ideal client, then your own growth will be hampered.
By telling your clients the type of profile you set out as your A1 client, they should hopefully read between the lines and recognise that you see them as a great company to work with. Flattery will get you everywhere!
4. Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs)
This is an essential part of your relationships with your clients. By meeting with your clients to review your relationship so far, you can identify new opportunities, resolve any outstanding issues, and integrate yourself better into their business and mindset. The feedback exchange will allow you to correctly set and/or maintain expectations from both parties whilst re-affirm your role as an IT Professional and not a Bob The Builder-esque break-fix business.
DO NOT under any circumstances, allow this type of appointment to bleed into a ‘just a quick question’ break-fix exercise. Wear a tailored outfit if it helps you resist, but do not let yourself bend the rules you set out in their Service Level Agreement (SLA).
Now get out there and grow!
Susanne Dansey is the Managing Director of Purple Cow Ideas Management – an organisation that facilitates a paradigm shift in the collaborative nature of the ICT Industry. You can follow her on Twitter and join the conversation on Facebook.